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The last command Jesus gave the church before he ascended to heaven was the Great Commission, the call for Christians to “make disciples of all the nations.” But Christians have responded by making “Christians,” not “disciples.” This has been the church’s Great Omission.
The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples, and for disciples of Jesus Christ. But the point is not merely verbal. What is more important is that the kind of life we see in the earliest church is that of a special type of person. All of the assurances and benefits offered to humankind in the gospel evidently presuppose such a life and do not make realistic sense apart from it. We cannot be Christians without being disciples, and we cannot call ourselves Christians without applying this understanding of life in the Kingdom of God to every aspect of life on earth.
This book calls believers to restore what should be the heart of Christianity—being active disciples of Jesus Christ. In the school of life, we are apprentices of the Teacher whose brilliance encourages us to rise above traditional church understanding and embrace the true meaning of discipleship—an active, concrete, 24/7 life with Jesus.
In his latest endeavor, Willard (The Divine Conspiracy) presents all Christians with a call to action, with a chief premise that all too often they neglect the latter part of Jesus’s “Great Commission,” in which he directed his followers to go into all nations and “make disciples” of people. According to Willard, the fact that “discipleship is optional” in today’s churches and Christian institutions is a travesty. In a straightforward and thoughtful way, he argues that discipleship and spiritual formation are in some way mandatory for anyone who professes to be a Christian (“We could never credibly claim to trust a doctor whose instructions we would not follow”). Only when following Jesus’s instructions becomes their fundamental goal, he professes, will Christians live abundant and fulfilled lives. All in all, this book makes for engaging reading for any Christian who aspires to lead a more spiritual life. Although certain passages may upset some readers (e.g., apathetic Christians are often given a scolding), Willard speaks his truth in such an eloquent, passionate, and powerful way that one can’t help but be moved to action. Recommended for all libraries.
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(San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006) 237 pp, ISBN: 0060882433.
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